Mike Whitmarsh, best known for slamming a ball through a net, is making quite a name for himself slamming one over a net.
Whitmarsh, a former basketball star at Monte Vista High, Grossmont College and the University of San Diego, was named the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals' rookie of the year for the 1990 season.
Whitmarsh, 28, who said he had never played volleyball until 1985, was ranked No. 27 and earned $23,000 last season.
Next year, with the rookie of the year honor as leverage, Whitmarsh expects to add a lucrative sponsor package.
"I had to pay my dues this year," Whitmarsh said. "A lot of companies would go, 'Mike Whitmarsh? Who are you?' They knew I played basketball, but they didn't know I was playing volleyball. It's going to be a lot easier selling myself now."
Whitmarsh, 6-feet-7, graduated from USD in 1984 after making the All-West Coast Athletic Conference team for the second year in a row. That season, he led the Toreros to an 18-10 record and the NCAA tournament. He averaged 18.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game and was named an honorable mention All-American.
He spent the next three seasons playing basketball in Europe, where he did well enough to earn an NBA tryout with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After being one of the last players cut, Whitmarsh decided to give volleyball a try.
It took a while to learn the game, but he was hooked in no time.
"I could probably make more money playing basketball in Europe," he said, "but I enjoy this volleyball a lot more. The atmosphere in volleyball is a lot more conducive to my personality, being in the sun and all the other perks that go along with the beach."
The men's soccer team at USIU, where the "I" truly stands for International, has 18 players from 13 countries and five continents. Only four Gulls are from the United States. Fittingly, USIU's coach, former Socker Ralf Wilhelms, is from Finvig, Germany.
The UC San Diego men's soccer team no longer has any foreigners on its roster. Glen Powell, 22, a freshman from England, became a U.S. citizen Oct. 12.
Powell came to New York with his parents when he was 18, but he didn't care for the big city. He joined the Navy and served for four years as a hospital corpsman before leaving the service in February.
As a serviceman, he was eligible for U.S. citizenship in three years.
"I did have mixed feelings because of the country I departed," Powell said. "But I think it will open up a lot of opportunities for me."
He added, "I took a lot of kidding from my friends (in England). But most of them envied me more than anything else."
Before coming to UCSD this fall, Powell played for the All-Navy team he said routinely beat the Army, Air Force and Marines.
Before Brian Harvey became the water polo coach at Grossmont College, the team had sunk to 2-23 in 1988.
Under Harvey, the Griffins finished 16-13 last year and are now 22-8 (11-0 in the Orange Empire Conference) and ranked fourth in the state.
Freshman Mike Poulson, a high school All-American from Monte Vista, has a school record and state high 115 goals. Other locals--all sophomores--who have helped turn things around include goalie Mike Tagwerker and defensemen Rich Calder of Monte Vista and Joel Hull of Helix.
Grossmont plays a key conference match Friday at home at 3:30 p.m. against Orange Coast, No. 2 in the state. Grossmont's 12-9 victory earlier in the year was Orange Coast's first conference loss in four years.
A media and sponsor press release for a water ski tournament hosted by San Diego State, said the event would receive "extensive media attention, before, during and after the tournament."
It was held last weekend, in case you missed it.
Point Loma Nazarene College plays host to two NAIA District III championships this weekend. In women's volleyball, the top-seeded Crusaders will host the district tournament for the first time with matches Friday at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The championship is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The District III men's and women's cross-country championships will be at Morley Field in Balboa Park Saturday at 9 a.m. The PLNC men's team is favored to win its second consecutive title and eighth in 15 years. The women's team has a chance to win its second championship in three years. . . . The USD men's soccer team, hoping for an NCAA playoff at-large berth, plays a key match Sunday at home at 1 p.m. against Portland, which will probably get the West Coast Conference's automatic bid. . . . The USIU men's soccer team hosts its season-ending tournament Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon each day.